Guinea leaders to control mining

Coup leader says freezing of mining contracts is part of anti-corruption drive.

    Camara said the junta will renegotiate all mining contracts [AFP]

    Mineral wealth

    In his speech to around 1,000 representatives of political parties, trades unions, and civil and church groups, Camara denounced "ministers who surrounded the head of state who looted the country, who constructed buildings, and had bank accounts everywhere."

    "For the person who embezzles money, there won't be a trial. They'll be killed,'' he said.

    The West African country sits on one-third of the world's reserves of bauxite reserves, the raw material used to make aluminum, and also has important reserves of gold, diamonds, and other minerals.

    But because of corruption and mismanagement, Guinea ranks 160 out of 177 in the United Nation's development scale.

    In October, the government said it hoped to raise $27bn in investment in the mining sector between now and 2015, but that forecast has since been rocked by the global economic downturn.

    Senegal support

    Camara seized power in a bloodless coup on Monday, hours after Lansana Conte, the president, died after 24 years in power.

    The coup has been largely condemned abroad, but on Saturday, neighbouring Senegal declared its support.

    "I call on all countries, notably France, to not throw stones at them [the coup leaders] and to take them at their word"

    Abdoulaye Wade, Senegal's president

    Abdoulaye Wade, the Senegalese president, said Camara was an honest young man who had taken power to fill a dangerous vacuum and urged other countries to leave the junta alone.

    "The military group currently in power in Guinea knows our support,'' Wade said.

    "I call on all countries, notably France, to not throw stones at them and to take them at their word.''

    The African Union said on Saturday it would continue to oppose the coup as unconstitutional.

    However, an AU official said that though coups were outlawed under the 53-member bloc's rules, the coup leaders' apparent popularity at home could influence the council's decision.

    The military council was to meet with foreign envoys on Saturday in an effort to gain international support for his leadership, but the meeting was postponed until Tuesday.

    Kgalema Motlanthe, the South African president, condemned the coup as "an affront to peace, stability and democracy,'' and called on the military rulers to hand over power to the speaker of the National Assembly who is to succeed the president according to Guinea's constitution.

    Camara has said elections will be held in December 2010.

    Powerful unions

    Following international criticism that elections are not planned for two more
    years, Camara told Guinea's unions on Saturday that he would allow them and others to propose the name of a prime minister.

    Rabiatou Serah Diallo, head of one of Guinea's largest unions, welcomed the move.

    "If they deviate from the road they promise to take us on, then they'll find us blocking their path,'' she said of the coup leaders.

    In 2007, Guinea's unions led weeks of deadly demonstrations calling for Conte to step down. He retained power by naming a prime minister from a list of five potential premiers approved by the unions.

    But Conte unexpectedly fired Lansana Kouyate through a presidential decree in May after an uneasy 15-month power-sharing agreement and chose a replacement.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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